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This may come as quite the surprise to many folks, but Volvo manufactures a midsize luxury sport sedan. It’s not only been around for a while, but it veers away from the typically boxy Volvo trademark exterior.

The 2015 Volvo S60 possesses a stylish appeal that makes it a standout in Volvo’s conservative lineup of vehicles. A low roof and flowing lines give the S60 a somewhat sleek and appealing look. An exterior update a year ago gave the S60 a more intriguing front end that features a new grille.

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Even though the S60 is a star in the Volvo lineup, it faces some tough competition. There are some highly regarded sedans that will give car shoppers plenty of options. Among the S60’s rivals are the BMW 3 Series, Acura TLX, Audi A4 and Lexus ES 350.

That’s a rough group of competitors, which is why the S60 has a difficult time. There’s a certain cache that comes with BMW, Acura, Audi and Lexus vehicle. And Volvo doesn’t have it. However, what the S60 can use as its primary calling card is price.

The S60 starts at an estimated $33,300 and is often thousands dollars less than the competition. So if you’re shopping for a premium-brand sedan, the Volvo is at least worth a test drive. Most drivers will find it handles well and possesses a definite fun factor, which is a pre-requisite for owning a luxury vehicle.

Another positive for the 2015 S60 is it features greater performance and efficiency due to its new powertrains. Joining several of its rivals, Volvo has adopted turbocharged power. The S60 also has added an eight-speed automatic transmission and a fuel-saving automatic engine that incorporates stop-start technology, which is a gas-saving measure that virtually shuts down the engine during full stops.

In case you might be wondering, Volvo retains its fantastic reputation for safety. The S60 comes equipped with standard safety features that include front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, whiplash-reducing front head restraints, antilock disc brakes, plus stability and traction control,.

Another standard is what Volvo calls the “City Safety,” a feature that helps the driver avoid a collision with another vehicle or a stationary object at speeds of up to 19 mph. The vehicle automatically applies the brakes if the driver doesn’t react in time.

Safety features are comforting, but often what really sells a car is performance. The S60 definitely offers plenty of performance in all its trim models, starting with the standard T5 that comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged, inline-4 engine that produces 240 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It travels 0-60 mph in 6 seconds and gets nice gas mileage (25-37 mpg) as well.

Volvo also offers the T5 model with a 2.5 turbo and 250 horsepower. The T6 is another turbo that has 320 horsepower and goes 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds. The top performer is the T6 R model, which is a turbocharged 3.0-liter, inline-6 that has 325 horsepower, 354 pound-feet of torque and takes only 5.4 seconds to go from 0-60 mph.

While performance is a plus with the S60, some of the interior features are not. The infotainment features are complicated and confusing – and they don’t have to be is the point often made here. Other negatives include a tight backseat with poor head and leg room and a small trunk (12 cubic-feet).

Although it’s a stretch to say the Volvo S60 is equal to its impressive list of competitors, it does start at a very reasonable price and there is much to like, including performance, handling, exterior and solid gas mileage.

2015 Volvo S60:  By The Numbers

  • Performance (standard engine): 2.0-liter, turbocharged inline-4, 240 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: -25-37mpg
  • Estimated price: $33,300-$45,700
  • Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles; drivetrain: 4 years/50,000 miles; roadside assistance: 12 years/unlimited; corrosion: 4 years/unlimited
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